Paul L. Caron

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lipshaw: Memo to Lawyers: How Not to "Retire and Teach"

Jeffrey M. Lipshaw (Suffolk) has published Memo to Lawyers: How Not to "Retire and Teach," 30 N.C. Cent. L. Rev. 151 (2008).  Here is the abstract:

Many long-time practitioners muse about what it might be like to retire and teach, not realizing there is no more galvanizing phrase to their counterparts who have long toiled in the academy, nor one less likely to enhance the prospects of the unfortunate seasoned applicant who utters the phrase. I intend this essay not for law professors (though it may either amuse or irritate them), but for those in the practice who aspire, after all these years, to return to the academy. With a good deal of humility acquired along the way, I offer some realistic advice to job seekers, concluding that wistful phrase is precisely the opposite of the true sine qua non of success: demonstrating the capability of, and commitment to, being a productive scholar.

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Lipshaw's piece is good reading. Arguably, however, he exaggerates the transition from practice to academia. Anyone who has ever swung a hammer for a living would understand.

Posted by: Jake | Nov 29, 2008 6:16:55 PM

This is an excellent article. Lipshaw provides a lot of practical advice on entering the market, but I think that there is more than that in this piece. At it's core there is a broader lesson regarding moving from one area of expertise into a new area that may be highly related, but is still unique in many ways.

An analogy might be people who enter law school after having worked as a professional for many years. This could mean either as a paralegal, business person, or government position. While your experience may in fact be useful, you need to learn a new set of skills and develop some humility.

As someone who went from practicing law in a corporate environment to being a graduate student pursuing a Ph.D., I can say that the humility came quite quickly. There's nothing like a course a statistics to take a lawyer (like me) down a peg or two. I think that the process of going from professional to law student would probably be similar.

Posted by: Jeff Yates | Nov 29, 2008 10:06:29 AM